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Working in TV news is like nothing else in the world. New reporters often find their jobs listed on “Most Stressful Jobs” rankings next to physicians and paramedics. The work schedule is tough and so are the stories. The deadlines are wild and the pressure is intense. Don’t forget you’ve got to look perfect (especially if you’re a woman) or else you’ll hear from strangers picking apart your lipstick at 5:30 in the morning.
It’s a lot, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without every single experience in front of and behind the camera. The lessons I learned working in a stressful environment for 10+ years are priceless and part of the reason why I’m a career coach today. Navigating a stressful work environment has the potential to bring out the best and worst in you. I’m still healing from the worst parts of the job (hello, burnout) but the lessons of the whole work experience have made me a wiser woman in all areas of my life.
Here are five lessons I learned from working in the TV business. Even the painful lessons accelerated my growth and helped me believe I could do anything I set my mind to.
- Sometimes it’s not your turn– In TV news, there are times where the math adds up and you still don’t get the promotion for a reason you’ll never understand. On paper, it works. But management, their “research” and whatever magic formula they think will win them viewers just doesn’t include you. So if you’re ever in a situation like this, your math adds up but you’re not moving up the ladder, instead of feeling like a victim, look at it like the door is closed for a reason. It’s not your turn. When it is your turn someone else may look at your promotion like it was supposed to be theirs and it’s not fair when really, it’s just YOUR time. Don’t get caught up in other people’s blessings.
- You can’t fake connection– The GOATS of TV are masters of connection. Think about Oprah and how she makes you feel. She’s warm and inviting. Try becoming a master of connection in your own work. It will add a layer of favor over you. When your name is brought up in boardrooms or on special projects, how you make people feel could make all the difference.
- Build work bonds. They make your life easier. My life was saved by my work friends and what I call desk mates, or the people who sit near you in the office. For me, they relieved the pressure of the job and got to know me and my personal day-to-day life simply because of their proximity to me. Through pregnancies and promotions, I could always rely on them to bring laughter and ease to a stressful environment. They just make your life easier. Who sits next to you at work? Or who do you see in the break room everyday? Find your person or two that you can share your life with. They make showing up everyday easier.
- Public mistakes can be your greatest teacher--The pain of messing up on live TV can’t really be explained. Not only did you let your station down and cause them embarrassment but you screwed up something important. And you’re on live TV. There’s no hiding. But, you rarely caught me making the same live TV mistake twice. I remembered the sting and didn’t want to feel it again. Learning on the job is messy because there’s no way around making mistakes. Feel the burn and don’t do it again. And don’t take yourself too seriously. I remember making mistakes thinking there would be some huge talk about it the next day and it never happened. It was business as usual. People weren’t sweating me like I thought they were.
5. Recognize the signs of burnout and act–When you’re burned out you feel exhausted, cynical and disconnected from your work. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to overcome. It’s important to know that PTO days won’t get to the root of the problem. No matter how much time I took away from the job, I was still tired. I just kept working. If this sounds like you ask yourself, why are you so drained from your work? What feels like a mismatch? How can you tweak your work days so you feel good again? I wish I would’ve taken action earlier and preserved my sanity. Let me be the one to tell you now–if you’re burned out don’t wallow in it. Take action.
Grab my free guide on recognizing burnout at www.coachtish.co/gift. I hope it helps you tackle burnout for good and allow you to enjoy work again.
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